Wildlife of the Americas (Planet Earth)
From Polar Bears in the north through forest, desert, rainforest and mountains to penguins in the south.
The Americas stretch from the Arctic in the north to Antarctica in the south. Some animals are isolated in parts of the region and some are found nearly everywhere.
Many birds migrate, spending the local summer in North America and then migrating to either Central America (which has more limited seasonal variation) or as far as South America (which has a summer climate while North America has a winter climate).
- Costa Rica Central American country with well-organised tourist infrastructure. Forest rich in birds and mammals.
Wildlife of the Americas
Canada is sparsely populated. Northern Canada has Arctic conditions with Polar Bears, seals and icebergs. There is whale watching along the coasts. Whale migration in autumn includes Blue Whale migration off the east coast and Humpback Whale migration off the west coast.
The United States of America (USA or US) is a large, sparsely populated country. Famous for its large national parks: using just one or two of these can make for an incredible wildlife holiday. There are many keen birdwatchers http://10000birds.com in the US.
Central America includes rainforest, sandy coasts and mountains. A highlight of this region is Costa Rica which has an excellent tourism infrastructure and lots of wildlife including birds and mammals. Nicaragua and Panama are similar to Costa Rica and more popular with budget tourists.
South America include the Andes, which is the longest mountain range in the world, running down the west coast. The Andes includes unique wildlife such as the Condor, guinea pigs and llama/alpaca. The Amazon rainforest is in the north-east with incredible numbers of bird and mammal species making it a popular (if awkward) travel destination. Ecuador and neighbouring countries are possibly the birdwatching highlight of South America as they combine the rich Amazonian, temperate and cloud forests for well over 1,000 species of birds.
The Galapagos Islands are off the west coast of South America. Made famous by the research done into evolution by Charles Darwin. Often combined with a visit to Ecuador.
Alpacas at sunset.
One of the highlights of birdwatching the northern-hemisphere spring is the migration at High Island in Texas. Large numbers of birds migrate between North and South America every year. The number of birds are particularly impressive in High Island because the geography of Central America draws most of the birds into a small funnel: and within that funnel perhaps a quarter of the birds will be drawn into a flight path passing close to High Island. That is a lot of birds in a small area!
A damselfly perched by a stream in the rainforest of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
This article is part of the Nature Travel Guide and was published on June 2017.
Larger-scale information relating this this page can be found in the Planet Earth article.
Even more articles including detailed site descriptions, illustrated wildlife-watching activities, self-guided walks, itinerary recommendations, birdwatching overviews and mammal-watching overviews are available in the premium eBooks.